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ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

Yan Maximum capacity. Chan (1998) addresses the concept of maximum capacity by defining it as the product of maximum class size by total number of available classrooms. He recognized, however, the limitations produced by determining school building capacity in this manner. Keeping these possible snares in mind, an approach to calculating capacity that considers all appropriate influences including curricular approaches and specific facility conditions was utilized in this study. The type of calculation that best approximates the actual ability of school facilities to utilize space to a given capacity is by finding practical capacity (Chan, 1998; Tanner & Lackney, 2006). Practical capacity. In addressing the issue of capacity, DeJong and Craig (2000) stated that the formula for calculating capacity should be an accurate reflection of the programs that are accommodated in public schools, yet as simple as possible for planning purposes. The Alaska Department for Education and Early Development (2005) indicated that, in addition to accurately reflecting the curricular programs, the school environment should also consider the necessity of preserving cultural pluralism and maintaining a local cultural identity. Several studies indicate that community utilization of public school building facilities should also be a factor in determining school building size; school-day student capacity is but one measure in planning facilities (California Department of General Services, 2006; Chan, 1998; DeJong & Craig, 2000). Methods of calculation. Each of the above capacity values can be determined in multiple ways, depending on the intended use of the data. Often calculated capacity levels are used to determine reimbursement issues, in which case a larger number of students are desirable. If, however, the building capacity totals are used to project need, as is the aim of this study, one must be cautious to err on the side of conservative figures. The predominant method of calculating school building capacity is based on the number of students that can be effectively instructed in various classroom settings (North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2006; Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2005). Depending on the curricular approach, classrooms, lunchrooms, libraries, and gymnasiums are able to accommodate a certain number of students per instructor. This approach takes into account the type of classroom: special education, fine arts, etc., and permits accommodations to be made in order to determine practical capacity as defined earlier. In my research on school building facilities, each type of classroom and educational space was delineated in order to effectively address the ability of the building to accommodate the maximum number of students. Statement of the Problem Local municipalities and the state of Pennsylvania spend a great deal of fiscal and human capital on maintaining school facilities in rural areas. To effectively do this, districts must be able to accurately assess the need to invest in existing structures or create new building projects based on shifting population numbers of people across the state. Research in this study provides population trend information to help prepare for either of two scenarios: consolidation and/or renovation of schools made necessary by declines in student populations, or renovation/new construction in order to accommodate an influx of students. The research conducted can be adapted or used by districts or state departments when schools are being closed and rebuilt in particular locales, much like the work Sheets (2009) conducted in rural schools in Texas. Major concerns in rural Pennsylvania schools are related to “energy inefficiencies, unsafe drinking water, water damage and moldy environments, poor air quality, inadequate fire alarms and fire safety, compromised building security, and structural dangers” (Filardo, Bernstein, & 19 Vol. 3, No. 1, 2012


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
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